Report released into derailment involving over-length train

Transportation Safety Board reports looks at causes of train derailment between Revelstoke and Golden.

A CP Rail train jumped the tracks when it collided with another train near Beavermouth on Sept. 6.

The union representing railway workers decried a recommendation by the Transportation Safety Board that live video recorders be placed in train cabs.

“It’s telling when you look at how the TSB has overstepped their bounds by advocating for CP management to surveil workers 24/7 and to disregard the privacy laws of Canada,” said Doug Finnson, the chairman of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. “There’s no evidence that 24/7 surveillance is necessary and there’s no sufficient information that they haven’t exhausted less intrusive ways of obtaining information.”

The recommendation is in the report on a Canadian Pacific Railway derailment at Beavermouth near Golden on Sept. 6. 2015. While live video and voice recording (LVVR) is not present on trains, the report says, “On-board recordings are useful for accident investigations and could also be useful for proactive safety management.”

Canadian Pacific Railway has asked the government permission to install the recorders in its trains. “It is the most significant opportunity to greatly reduce risk, improve safety, and assist in post-incident investigations,” wrote spokesperson Salem Woodrow in an e-mail. “CP is prepared to invest in and install LVVR technology if it can be used to improve safety proactively. The use of this technology would have an immediate effect on enhancing a culture of safety and accountability in the rail sector, an action that will save lives.”

Finnson said the union supports LVVR for investigations, but not for company use.

“What they don’t mention that it’s unanimous that LVVR for TSB investigations is appropriate,” he said. “They’ve completely overstepped their bounds by advocating for management to surveil workers 24/7.”

The TSB released its report into the derailment last week.

Train 602 was heading from Revelstoke to Field when it missed a signal at Beavermouth and collided into Train 113, an over-length train that extended beyond the siding it was parked in and onto the main track, says the TSB report into the incident that was released last week.

The derailment happened at around 2:20 a.m.

Image: The derailment took place at Beavermouth, between Revelstoke and Golden. ~ By Transportation Safety Board

Train 113, which was 12,000 feet long, was parked at Beavermouth but it’s tail extended past the east end of the siding onto the main track. The crew of train 602 approached the siding not knowing about the over-length train. They assumed the track would be clear, despite signals indicating they needed to stop.

To compound matters, CP Rail policy is to not inform crews of over-siding-length trains. As well, the crew of train 602 missed two slow zones and were worried about being fired for speeding as they approached the siding.

When they got there, they were given two signals telling them to prepare for a stop. The crew did not indicate they saw the signals. The final signal telling them to stop was obscured by the double-stack containers on train 113. By the time they saw the red lights, it was too late and they were unable to stop the train before the collision.

The derailment resulted in train 602 leaving the tracks and hitting a rock face next to the tracks. The conductor experienced serious injuries as a result of the incident.

The TSB report attributes several causes to the derailment.

For one, the report is critical of CP Rail’s policy to not notify crews of over-siding-length trains and instead solely relying on them to adhere to the signals.

“If a train crew is not advised of an upcoming meet with an over-siding-length train, an inaccurate mental model about the meet can result, increasing the risk of a collision,” says the report.

CP Rail also failed to flag some slow zones, making it more difficult for crews to know when they were entering these zones. Following the derailment, Transport Canada issued orders that slow zones should be flagged within 24 hours. CP Rail was sent a letter of non-compliance over 17 instances where it didn’t properly flag slow zones.

The report notes CP lacks cab signalling systems, where track-side signals are displayed in the train cab. The technology has been in use in the United States for 85 years, but is not used in Canada.

The report also notes the lack of Positive Train Control technology in Canada. PTC is an emerging technology that will automatically stop or slow a train if the crew fails to follow trackside signals. In the U.S., PTC must be in place by the end of 2018, but there is no mandated date for the implementation of the technology in Canada.

“In addition, there remains no short-term plan to help ensure that railway signal indications are always followed in the absence of additional backup safety defences,” the report says. “If existing signal systems are not enhanced to include physical failsafe capabilities, failures to follow signal indications will continue, and the risk of train collisions and derailments will persist.”

The report recommends on-board voice and video recorders both to aid investigators and so rail companies can identify gaps in procedures and training.

Finnson said the incident spoke to the culture of fear that existed amongst employees under the Hunter Harrison regime.

“It’s totally widespread throughout the whole organization and the workers think about it everyday,” he said. “They humiliate workers, they degrade workers and they manage through fear and intimidation bottom line, across the board.”

He was also critical that the investigators didn’t look into crew fatigue, given the derailment happened in the middle of the night. The report says the crews of both trains “met fitness and rest standards.”

Woodrow said CP Rail would not change their policy of not notifying crews of over-siding length trains. “CP stands by the requirements of the operating rules to expect crews react to signal indication,” wrote Salem Woodrow.

She said they were not considering installing “antiquated” cab signalling systems and were working on implementing PTC technology, but “there are extensive issues with the system that still have to be overcome.” Instead, the company is pushing for LVVR on trains.

Woodrow dismissed a question about the “culture of fear.”

“CP has a strong safety culture – one that its employees are proud of,” wrote Woodrow. ” 2016 was the safest year ever for CP and for 11 consecutive years, CP has led the North American industry in terms of train accident prevention with the lowest Federal Railroad Administration reportable train accident frequency.”

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